It just keeps getting better. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, what else do you need?
Espresso Tales is the second bound installment of the serial novel published in The Scotsman, the first installment of which you find in 44 Scotland Street. Bertie-fans (and surely there are many of us) will have their moments. Domenica is as egaging as ever, and Bruce runs into well-deserved trouble. You gotta love it…
44 Scotland Street is an odd book, due to its origin as a daily serialized newspaper novel, a form of writing which was all but dead until McCall Smith revived it. However, it reads very well in bound form, too, and paints a vivid, if not altogether pretty, picture of life in an Edinburgh block of flats. I, for one, am looking foreward to the next installment.
Being in the habit of reading everything Alexander McCall Smith puts out, I naturally picked up The Girl who Married a Lion too. It’s a nice little collection of “folk-tales”, and will find its rightful place on the shelves next to Asbjørnsen and moe and the brothers Grimm once we have bookshelves again.
The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom contains the three novels about von Igelfeld so far published, Portugese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs (which I’ve read before) and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Neither of the other two, PIV or AVRC, are quite as laugh-out-loud-funny as TFPSD was, but they are quite unmissable none the less. The mixture of self-importance and petty academic squabbles von Igelfeld and his colleagues present with the sheer humanity of their actions in finer moments makes one want to nod and shake one’s head at the same time (a form of movement which makes it quite difficult to keep reading, I can tell you).
I seem to have run out of words to describe The Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency novels. Suffice it to say that In the Company of Cheerful Ladies continues the proud tradition of being absolutely delightful.
I was planning to wait and read The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs only after I’d got my hands on Portugese Irregular Verbs and so read them in the proper order, but it was lying so handily nearby when I was looking for a new book to start that I decided to be improper, just this once.
This, incidentally, is a book of the Laugh Out Loud variety. There is the unfortunate incident of the sausage dogs and the lecture and then there is the even more unfortunate incident of the sausage dog and the veterinary institute and towards the end there is the rather catastrophical incident with the sausage dog and… Oh, but that would be telling, so I’d better not.
I was apprehensive to see what I’d make of McCall Smith outside of Botswana, but The Sunday Philosophy Club, luckily, did not disappoint. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the setting is Edinburgh, a place I – unlike Botswana – already know and love. And then you’ve got to love a man who can write paragraphs like this one:
‘Perhaps,’ Cat had said, but she had been looking away then, at a jar of pickled onions – this conversation had taken place in the delicatessen – and her attention had clearly wandered. Pickled onions had nothing to do with moral imagination, but were important in their own quiet, vinegary way, Isabel supposed.
Isabel Dalhousie is a charming main character, on the whole, and to make it even better she might eventually make me understand cryptic crosswords. I am certainly looking forward to the next installation, if there is one, which I hope…
There was, of course, no other option than to devour The Full Cupboard of Life the moment one got hold of it (at a Waterstone’s in London). It is quite simply perfect, and if it’s supposed to be the last in the series about Mma Ramotswe, I am not going to complain (though I would like more), that is how perfect it is.
During the trip to Scotland I found Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls and The Kalahari Typing School for Men on sale. Considering how much I enjoyed The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, I did not hesitate in aquiring them, and they were all finished by the time we came home. Just like No. 1 the three following books simply fly by, despite having a distinctly relaxed and unhurried feel. I don’t know how Alexander McCall Smith does it, if you figure it out, please tell me.